Comment

05.11.18

Innovating workforce productivity

Source: PSE Oct/Nov 2018

Cllr Peter Fleming OBE, chair of the LGA’s Improvement & Innovation Board and leader of Sevenoaks District Council, looks at how technology can improve the productivity of public-sector workers.

Across the country, councils have been harnessing the power of digital tools and solutions to improve outcomes for their residents for some time. Whereas previously the focus was on websites and transactions, the conversation has moved to mobile technologies, artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things and beyond. All of these technologies can be used to help public-sector workers be more productive and, as a result, better support their residents.

Examples of services which have been transformed using digital tools and solutions can be found across the full range of council services. Scarborough Borough Council’s approach to changing both the customer and back-office sides of its refuse collection service involved using online forms, routing planning and in-cab technology. It has seen increased engagement of frontline staff and has already delivered substantial efficiency savings.

Alternative working patterns are made possible by technologies that offer the functionality to meet and collaborate virtually. The London Borough of Camden, as part of the Timewise Council Programme, began to encourage flexible working requests as part of all job adverts. These efforts, in conjunction with their broader strategy, have resulted in a wider range of quality applicants. Initiatives like these help build capacity within the workforce to allow us to continue to meet future challenges within the public sector.

Increasingly, we also see digital tools and solutions being used to improve outcomes in social care; we must consider how such tools may be used in the future to further address a problem widely acknowledged to be one of the most challenging areas for local government. Conservative-controlled Hampshire County Council has used assistive technology to improve the lives of older and vulnerable residents. This work has also relieved pressure on carers and has saved the county council over £7m net of contract costs.

Amidst this opportunity, there are significant challenges as we move towards more digitally enabled workforces and places. The challenge of connectivity, in particular universal access to reliable and affordable connectivity, is one of the biggest hurdles, as this is the enabling infrastructure which will allow the public sector to fully utilise the potential of digital tools and solutions to support the delivery of public service.

Data sharing, cyber security and integration with legacy systems are potential barriers that must also be part of the conversation. Where these can be addressed, whether within or between organisations, the potential gains are substantial. Several councils have worked on pulling together related datasets to support their frontline staff, such as social workers, to access information from a range of sources and provide a holistic view of a client. This in turn empowers the social worker to better tailor their approach to meet the needs of their client, resulting in early intervention and improved outcomes.

Although there is much to celebrate, continuing this discussion is vital to ensure that existing work and good practice within the public sector is shared, adapted, improved and used to inform action that reflects the particular circumstances and challenges of different services. This will also help ensure that, as new technologies become available, the sector is well placed to co-opt technologies to make public services more efficient, effective and seamless for the user.

 

Enjoying PSE? Subscribe here to receive our weekly news updates or click here to receive a copy of the magazine!

Comments

There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment

 

related

public sector executive tv

more videos >

latest public sector news

Essex council announces £1bn construction deal

22/03/2019Essex council announces £1bn construction deal

An Essex council has announced a £1bn contract in a joint venture to regenerate council sites and deliver new homes and commercial faciliti... more >
Council to pull out of government schools improvement body over rising costs and ‘major concerns’ over poor management

22/03/2019Council to pull out of government schools improvement body over rising costs and ‘major concerns’ over poor management

A Welsh council is to pull out of a government-run schools improvement scheme over concerns about how it is run and fears that the quadrupling of... more >
Councils' legal challenge against Buckinghamshire merger process rejected

22/03/2019Councils' legal challenge against Buckinghamshire merger process rejected

An application from three district councils for a judicial review of the merger plans to create a single unitary council for Buckinghamshire has ... more >
149x260 PSE Subscribe button

the raven's daily blog

Councils Can: LGA launches Spending Review campaign

18/03/2019Councils Can: LGA launches Spending Review campaign

Lord Porter, chairman of the Local Government Association, outlines his organisation’s campaign to make sure local government tops to government’s list for this year’s Spending Review. Our #CouncilsCan campaign to influence this year’s Spending Review is well underway and gathering momentum. The money local governm... more >
read more blog posts from 'the raven' >

interviews

Digital innovation in the public sector: The future is now

17/12/2018Digital innovation in the public sector: The future is now

One of the public sector’s key technology partners has recently welcomed a new member to its team. Matt Spencer, O2’s head of public ... more >
Artificial intelligence: the devil is in the data

17/12/2018Artificial intelligence: the devil is in the data

It’s no secret that the public sector and its service providers need to invest in technology to help make better use of their resources. Bu... more >
New Dorset Councils CEO on the creation of a new unitary: ‘This is going to be the right decision for Dorset’

05/11/2018New Dorset Councils CEO on the creation of a new unitary: ‘This is going to be the right decision for Dorset’

The new chief executive of one of the new unitary authorities in Dorset has outlined his approach to culture and work with employees, arguing tha... more >
Keeping the momentum of the Northern Powerhouse

15/10/2018Keeping the momentum of the Northern Powerhouse

On 6 September, the biggest decision-makers of the north joined forces to celebrate and debate how to drive innovation and improvement through th... more >

last word

The importance of openness after Grenfell

The importance of openness after Grenfell

Following the recent Grenfell Tower tragedy, Lord Porter, chairman of the LGA, argues that if the public are going to have faith in the safety testing process then everything must be out in the o... more > more last word articles >

editor's comment

25/10/2017Take a moment to celebrate

Devolution, restructuring and widespread service reform: from a journalist’s perspective, it’s never been a more exciting time to report on the public sector. That’s why I could not be more thrilled to be taking over the reins at PSE at this key juncture. There could not be a feature that more perfectly encapsulates this... read more >

public sector focus

Flexible working being led by the public sector, Softworks survey finds

26/02/2019Flexible working being led by the public sector, Softworks survey finds

The public sector is leading the way in regar... more >
Digital innovation in the public sector: The future is now

17/12/2018Digital innovation in the public sector: The future is now

One of the public sector’s key technolo... more >